“A steep run up a headwall to the Twin Lakes to access the Chicago Basin 14ers.”
— Tyler Prince
While this section of trail can easily be explored by fit dogs, the peaks above it are generally too technical for them.
It may be tempting to camp this high to avoid having to go up these 2,000 ft of headwall twice (if splitting the 14ers into two days of running). While possible, there are few good sites here, and you'll probably get some strange looks.
Features: Fall Colors — Lake — River/Creek — Swimming — Views — Waterfall — Wildflowers — Wildlife
While this trail doesn't have that many roots or rocks, it's also one of the steepest class 1-2 routes in the state. It's runnable, but just know that "running" isn't going to be any faster than speedy hiking.
This brutally steep trail switchbacks up a headwall before dropping runners off at Twin Lakes, giving them the option of running Sunlight and Windom
to the right or the Eolus Group
to the left.
From camp near the top of Chicago Basin Trail, run on clear trail at 11,200 ft. There's a wooden sign here, but it's easy to miss. Not to worry, the trail you want is the one going up toward them big, needly mountains. In a few hundred meters, cross some rock slabs. The trail here is a bit hard to follow, especially with a pre-dawn alpine start, so take your time here. Navigate back onto the trail and leave the trees at 11,400 ft. From here you should be able to see a plateau at the top of a headwall, with a stream running right down the middle. Your goal is to cross the stream and switchback to the top.
Stream crossings are at about 11,700 and 12,300 ft. After the second crossing, it's just a short distance to the lakes.
Flora & Fauna
This approach boasts incredible wildflowers. From the lower basin up to the Twin Lakes is easily one of the most beautiful areas in Colorado, and you'll pass many marmots, pika, and mountain goats who seem to agree. Once at the lakes, there's plenty of grass. Mountain goats seem to have a thing for Mt. Eolus
, so expect to see tons of them past this trail and to the left.